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Palm Tipsheet 25.0 / December 2001
In this month's issue I'll share ideas and software applications to help transform a Palm handheld into a powerful language reference tool. In the Tipsheet Interview, Cornelis Steinitz provides a Swiss perspective of Palm handhelds as well as thoughts on their popularity in Switzerland.
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It's been a busy month for me, with a business trip the first week of December. I decided to delay publication of issue 25.0 rather than rush out the issue. Thanks for your patience and understanding.
If you're searching for gifts for those who have *everything* check out World Vision's Holiday Gifts of Hope. This is a catalog of gifts sent to less fortunate people worldwide, in the name of whomever you designate. For example, buy a goat for a family for $50 in the name of your best friend:
As an avid J.R.R. Tolkien fan, I'm *very* excited about the Lord of the Rings movie series, starting with The Fellowship of the Ring, on December 19th. If you've not read Lord of the Rings (LOTR), I highly recommend this excellent trilogy, which is so good, I've read it 8 times! :-)
On with this issue, featuring my article on Palm handhelds as a language reference tools and an interview with Swiss Palm user Cornelis Steinitz.
Wishing you a wondrous holiday and happy new year!
Handheld Price Cuts Make for Great Holiday Deals -- Prices are dropping on several handhelds; The Palm m125 drops $50 to $200, the Handspring Visor Edge Drops $50 to $250 and Sony's Clié N760C drops $50 to $450:
While most folks may be content to use a Palm handheld as a paper planner replacement, others (like me) are always searching for ways to expand their handheld's capabilities. In this month's feature article I'll share ideas and links to a variety of third-party applications to turn your Palm handheld into a powerful language reference tool.
For example, when visiting my favorite Thai restaurant, I sometimes ask the owners to teach me a new phrase and add it to my Thai phrase memo. It's fun to speak these native phrases back to them when I return for my next meal.
To give you an idea how a language reference memo can be built, here's what the first three entries in my Swedish reference memo looks like:
Hej -- kan vi prata Engelska med dig?
You can add as many words or phrases as you wish, up to the 4k memo limit.
Here are just a few dictionary tools to consider (listed alphabetically):
*ASL Basic & ASL Vocab -- If you'd like an ASL (American Sign Language) reference on your Palm handheld, check out these two applications from Zoosware. ASL Basic provides letter and number reference and quiz options, while ASL Vocab provides 236 vocabulary entries with images and captions:
*BDicty Lexicons & Phrasebooks -- BDicty is a free a reader app from Beiks, which works with all of Beiks language lexicons; a $10 commercial version adds several features such as the ability to add your own word entries. BDicty also supports VFS removable media. Lexicons start at about $8 each; various bundle packages are also available:
*Collins Dictionary -- This dictionary system from Tom Tom provides a standard dictionary-style format with descriptions of words rather than simple word translations. Dictionaries are bi-directional, offered in French, German, Italian and Spanish, and are priced at $35 each.
*Evolutionary Dictionary -- This simplified dictionary tool offers bi-directional translations with many free dictionaries available for download. The app itself costs $18 and supports VFS removable media and creation of your own dictionaries with a free Windows tool:
*KD Dictionary -- This $9 dictionary from KD Software puts emphasis on colloquial phrases, and business oriented language. A wide variety of languages are available ranging from $7 to $20 depending on words translated; bundles are also available from $13 to $38:
*Lingua Franca -- This free language tool offers a listing of translated words and the ability to enter a word in a translation window for quick conversion. Up to 9 languages can be loaded at a time. Stand alone Software no longer supports this app, but still offers it as a free download:
*Noah & Noah Lite -- ArsLexis offers 2 English-Only dictionaries for those wishing for an English language reference on a Palm. Noah Pro 2.0 is a $20 app which offers 122,000 word definitions, supports VFS removable media and offers user-created lexicon capabilities. Noah Lite is a less-featured, freeware dictionary tool similar to Noah Pro:
*PolliGlot -- This free dictionary tool from Thomas Gredig provides quick translations between many languages. The dictionary uses a plain, tab-text format for lexicons, for easy to creation or editing:
*SlovoEd -- Paragon Software's SlovoEd is unique from other language dictionaries, since it offers traditional word translation along with access to its lexicons wherever text appears on your Palm handheld. This 'use-anywhere' feature enables you to highlight text, activate SlovoEd with a special stroke and the word or phrase is translated in a pop-up window. Lexicons range from $10 to $25; the app is included with all lexicon pairs:
*SmallTalk -- This $20 application from LandWare is more of a translator for converting language phrases in real-time than a strict dictionary, though it certainly does fit in the dictionary category. Small Talk enables you to converse in 5 languages (English, French, German, Italian and Spanish) using a icon-based menu system:
*Translate -- DDH software's Translate also provides conversion from various languages. Translate's strongest feature is the ability to translate long strings of words in one shot. Each language lexicon is $12 or the full bundle of all 18 languages costs $70.
*TrueTerm -- This freeware traveler's language dictionary from AlphaSoft features 64 language pairs which can be edited, offers verb conjugations and thesaurus features:
*Verb Conjugator -- This tool from Beiks helps you conjugate verbs in English, French, Spanish and German:
*CJKOS -- A $28 localization utility from DYTS for Chinese, Japanese and Korean:
*InterPilot -- A $12 localization utility from Sergey Menshikov for Greek, Turkish, Czech, Polski, Russian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Croatian and Ukrainian:
*InterType -- A $10 localization utility from Beiks for Russian and Bulgarian:
*PILoc -- A $15 to $50 localization utility from Paragon Software for Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Estonian, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian:
*ThaiPOS -- A $20 localization utility from KK Technologies for Thai:
Hello Mike! Thank you for having me as your guest! I have been following the Palm Tipsheet News for 2 years now and I must say I learned quite a number of new things here and there while taking time out to read the Tipsheet. Very informative. Keep up the good work!
I would say being a Palm fan for over 4 years now, I have seen that more so, people who are in the IT field and in larger corporations here in Switzerland have Palms. They are mostly younger, but whenever I get the chance to look around and do some window shopping, I definitely notice that people between the ages of 30-45 are discussing what this and that model can do and what all the features are, when standing next to them in stores.
I would say that there are potentially more people than you would realize that have PDAs in their pockets. Traditionally the Swiss are people who don't flash around what they have, usually keeping their possessions to themselves. So that is what I mean about more Palms being in Swiss pockets than one might suspect. They are most certainly gaining in popularity, since more and more advertising is being done and miniaturisation is now an important factor. The Palm has been looked upon, here also, in it's hey-day as a gadget for insiders.
Now that people have to have information at their fingertips, the Palm is coming out more and more. Of course the Palm is being challenged by other Palm OS clones such as Sony and Handspring. Also I would say the financial power is definitely here for the Palm based PDA market to grow a bit more. What I do notice is that, the people that have a Palm here in Switzerland won't buy another too fast since it is a stable and good working product in general. So no fast updates to newer models I would suspect here.
Your question is a very good one, since Switzerland is in fact a quad-languaged nation. In the North to Northwest and in the central part of the country most people speak Swiss German, a separate German-based dialect. In the Southwest portion of the country, French is the main spoken language and in the East to Southeast portion of the country, Italian is mainly spoken. A small group of people speak a language called "Raet-Romansch". This is a separate language for which there is no Palm OS based language I would know of.
My Palm OS is a German language one. Swiss German does not differ from German at all, except that in Germany the sign 'ß' (so called 'sharp s' -- for special word emphasizing) is used in place of an 'ss' in some words. In Switzerland when an 'ss' is needed then an 'ss' is used. Aside from that, the only other thing that differs between the two German language groups is the way number separation is done (thousand, ten-thousands, hundred-thousands, etc.), namely with an apostrophe (e.g. 1'000, 10'000). In Germany a decimal is used.
To ease the use of "Umlauts" (the little double dots above certain vocal letters: ü, ä, ö) there is a Hack by the name of "GermanCharsHack", which lets you emphasize the Umlauts faster than supplied with the Palm OS. Aside from that, no really strange twists.
In the beginning I wasn't to sure of taking it out on the bus or in the street car on longer rides and doing a little reading or note jotting. On train rides or when staying over night at friends, there was no hesitation on my part to use my Palm. I noticed that people would curiously look and then look away when I looked up -- a very familiar reaction for many Palm users I would guess -- but no one really ever asked me about it.
Friends used to say, "what have you got there?", "...that will land in the closet in a few weeks", "...it's so small you can't really work with that can you?" and "Hey, what's that, couldn't afford a Game Boy?!". But now people are amazed when I tell them I have all our business contacts in there with detailed information, passwords, helpful little programs, etc. But the real whopper is when I use the Stowaway foldable keyboard! People don't believe it at all!
Also a simple little thing like using my GSM cell phone together with the IRDA Port on my Palm to get my email (wireless) whenever and wherever I feel like, really opens most eyes and generates the most interest. There are not really many opportunities to really let people know about the amazing things a Palm can do since notebook sized PCs are the craze here at the moment. Europe is getting there, everybody wants it smaller... so it is getting to where the Palm, I feel, will become a very stable and accepted factor, just because of its simplicity.
Aside from it being my second brain, having my schedule, our customer database, keeping monetary accounts up-to-date (BankBook), reading and altering MS-Word files (WordSmith) on the go, checking tasks, using my German-English-German dictionary (BDicty), and checking currency exchange rates (Currency) you mean? Well, I would say I keep up on the IT industry news via AvantGo channels as a hobby and once in a while I will update my huge CD music database (ThinkDB).
My daily heavies are:
Pop-Up Favorites and Pop-Up Names:
In fact I have my eye on a few things in the near future. I'd like to try out a Sony Clié N770C. Waiting for Bluetooth SD cards to come out for my Palm m505. And of course, the Handspring Treo, combo cell phone and Palm PDA which won't be until the middle or end of 2002 in Europe. I am very much interested if it will be well usable or not. We will see :-)
Yes, that's right I was forced ;-) into having had very many PDAs in the past. Six years ago I started reading about PDAs. After having talked to our insurance salesman about the use of his HP 100LX. He sold me his shortly thereafter, because he needed the HP 200LX. I was in gadget heaven! It was also great that I was able to learn and speak to him often about problems and user related issues.
After a few months I was wishing for more ease of use and better data entry options, but wasn't ready to pay the money for an absolutely new Newton MessagePad, since the idea of no keyboard really made me uneasy. So I bought a brand new HP 200LX, thinking I knew the ropes there and with more capacity I would settle fine. Well, the ease of use issue was still lingering in the background so one PDA led to the next: Psion 3c, Newton MessagePad 2000, Psion S5, then at an IT trade show I first saw the Palm Pilot Professional -- needless to say the next day I went out and bought one!
At the same time I went owned other PDAs, just to see if they were better or just for the comparison: the Sharp Mobilon 4200G, Casio E-10G. I always like my Palm best, which always suited me best. I have owned all the units in the Palm series: Professional, Palm III, Palm IIIx, Palm IIIc, Palm V, PalmVx and the TRG Pro. The Palm is my absolute clear choice because of the simplicity, the size, the speed, the loads of software on the internet and the unbeatable battery up-time.
Am I rich? No, just using the internet to sell units when I am done testing and with the money from a private sale and a small new sum, I go out and buy the next one. It has always worked out well for me.
The site was created to be a kind of a German version of Julie Strietelmeier's "The Gadgeteer." I love her site. The work and the reviews are very in depth, and she hasn't been bought by the industry -- which means to say that she speaks her mind in her various tests -- good and bad points. So I went out and built the site, only in German.
With Julie's permission I was able to translate some of her reviews and started adding my own. Again with the system of buying the hardware and then reselling it after my tests to refinance new hardware. But money is not always ample... :-)
Meanwhile, the site's main focus lies in presenting new hardware info, and the links to catch a glimpse of them, before anyone else does. I use a special trick that helps me with this. And I have been very successful with it. One of my sightings came 4 weeks before it was presented at CNet and in various IT news bulletins. I have also written various articles for a German Palm based website and this past November I had 5 pages of articles come out on myself (an interview on data backup) and my test reviews (PC-Praxis Palm special magazine), but not on a professional basis. I do it only because I love my Palm!
At the end of a trying week, I went out on a Friday evening and bought my (back then) new Palm IIIx. I was a child in heaven with his new toy way deep into the night. I am also a fan of various Scottish whiskeys... well my Palm decided to take a sip of my Glenfiddich at around 1:30am... By mistake I brushed the glass with my sleeve and dumped a perfectly good round of 40 year old Glenfiddich on and in my Palm IIIx. I thought I was going to see the last for my IIIx before I even had the chance to look into it further!
Well I hurried and disassembled my Palm and took a hair dryer and tried to dry my Palm as best as I could. The next day before I put the Palm together again I took my digital camera and decided to make s series of close up pictures of the inside of my IIIx. These pictures were one of the first in depth pictures in the German Palm community at that time and I had a real wave of hits to my website! Needless to say the Palm IIIx, after it had been put together again, worked like a charm!
I was thrilled to have been interviewed by you, Mike! Thank you again for the opportunity! The only thing I would like to say in closing is that, the Palm is definitely an ingenious device, because it is very uncomplicated to use. Trust me I have had many PDAs, but the Palm probably MADE the saying "keep it simple stupid", that is why so many fall in love with it, once they have it. Because of the simplicity and ease of use I have never taken a look inside the user manual. What for? The Palm is so self explanatory, I never had to! :-)
The list of upcoming interviews includes: Canada, Argentina, Mexico, New Zealand, Thailand, Venezuela, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Italy, The Philippines, Belgium, South Africa, Bahrain, Barbados, Russia, Romania, Honduras, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Argentina, Guatemala, Portugal, Slovenia, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Kenya, Croatia and Denmark.
The list of past interviews includes users from: Switzerland, Spain, Israel, The Netherlands, India, Costa Rica, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Britain, China, France, Japan, Norway, Poland, and Turkey. If you are from a country *not* represented on either list, feel free to apply with an an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Want more? Check out the Palm Tipsheet website for archived issues, article and interview listings, Tipsheet FAQ, the 'About the Tipsheet' area, our unofficial AvantGo channel and the handy search tool:
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